College Basketball Betting

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How to Bet on College Basketball

NCAAB betting in the United States features hundreds of Division I teams playing from November through April; there are preseason tournaments like the Maui Invitational, regular season games, conference championships, and other end-of-season events like the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). However, the biggest college basketball event of the year is March Madness. The NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament is one of the biggest sporting events in the world. Here’s how you can bet on all of NCAAB action at Bovada.

1. Setting up Your Account

If you’re not already a member, you’ll need to sign up for your free Bovada Sportsbook account before you can bet on college basketball. Fill out our one-page form, and we’ll open your account after your eligibility has been verified.

Once you’re in, take a moment to get familiar with the Bovada website, then make your first deposit – and don’t forget to claim your Sports Welcome Bonus. You’ll earn free bonus cash just by betting on college hoops, and if you use cryptocurrency (Bitcoin and other digital coins are accepted) to make your deposit, we’ll even super-size your bonus for you.

2. Understanding NCAAB Odds

There are almost as many different ways to bet on NCAA basketball as there are teams in Division I. The most common bets are the “single” bets: point spread, moneyline, and total. Here’s an example of what you might see when you browse the NCAAB betting lines at Bovada:

North Carolina +4.5 (–115) +175 O 152.5 (–105)

Kansas –4.5 (–105) –210 U 152.5 (–125)

These were the closing single lines for the 2022 National Championship Game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas were the designated home team, so their name is at the bottom, which is standard for most American sports. So is the use of the “American odds” format, with all those positive and negative numbers you see above.

Reading the college basketball lines is easy when you know how. The first numbers next to the team names show the point spread; Kansas were 4.5-point favorites, as indicated by the negative sign, while North Carolina were 4.5-point underdogs, as indicated by the positive sign. That means the Jayhawks had to win this game by more than 4.5 points (i.e. at least five points) in order to cover the spread and pay out. Otherwise, the Tar Heels would cover, even if they lost by up to four points.

The numbers in parentheses show the vigorish (aka vig, aka juice) the book charges as a commission for handling your wager. Normally, you’ll see –110 vigorish on both sides, meaning you’re wagering $110 to win $100, or $11 to win $10, or any multiple thereof. In this case, the juice has been moved slightly towards North Carolina, who would pay out $100 for every $115 wagered – which they did when they lost 72-69.

The next set of numbers to the right shows the moneyline for the game in question. Now you’re simply betting on which team will win straight-up, with Kansas paying out $100 for every $210 wagered, and North Carolina $175 for every $100. Kansas supporters were the moneyline winners as the Jayhawks won the title and cut down the nets.

Finally, we have the total, which is a bet on whether the combined final score will be Over (O) or Under (U) the posted number. As with point spreads, there’s vigorish attached to the total; Kansas won this game 72-69, so Under 152.5 was the winning bet, paying out $100 for every $125 wagered.

There’s more to college basketball betting than just single wagers. The NCAAB betting lines at Bovada include props, specials, parlays, teasers, and futures, each with its own set of rules. You can learn more about all these basketball bets by consulting our FAQ and Help Guides at Bovada.

3. Placing Your Bet

Now that you know the basic fundamentals of basketball betting, it’s time to place your first wager at Bovada Sportsbook. Choose the bet you want to make from the list on our college basketball odds page, and it will appear in your Bet Slip. Enter the amount you wish to wager, then hit the “Place Bets” button once you’re satisfied with your choices.

That’s it – you are now an experienced college basketball bettor. Enjoy the games, track your progress by keeping an eye on your Bovada Sportsbook account balance, and make sure to browse our archive of useful NCAAB articles for tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your NCAAB betting experience.

Types of College Basketball Bets

Bovada Sporsbook is your No. 1 destination for betting on college basketball; there are dozens of different ways you can bet on NCAAB games at Bovada, and the action never stops – even when school isn’t in session. Here’s a quick primer for those who are just getting their feet wet with Division I college hoops. 

Point Spread

Chances are you’re already familiar with the point spread, which has been around for over 70 years. Instead of betting on Team A or Team B to win straight-up, the favored team is forced to win by at least a certain number of points in order to “cover” the spread and pay out at just under even money.

For an example, here was the point spread at Bovada Sportsbook for the 2022 National Championship Game between the Kansas Jayhawks and the North Carolina Tar Heels:

North Carolina +4.5 (–115)

Kansas –4.5 (–105)

Kansas (listed at the bottom, since they were the designated home team at the Superdome in New Orleans) were favored by 4.5 points in this matchup, meaning they had to win by at least five points to cover. On the flip side, North Carolina were the underdogs at +4.5, and only had to prevent Kansas from winning by more than four points.

Occasionally, you’ll find a point spread that’s a whole number, like –4. Should the favorite win by exactly that number of points, the result is graded as a push, and the bettors get their money back. Having a spread with an extra half-point attached removes pushes from the equation.

The numbers in parentheses show the vigorish (aka “juice”) attached to each team’s odds. This represents the commission you pay for your NCAAB bets. It’s standard for each team to be priced at –110, which you can read as betting $110 to win $100 (other bet sizes are allowed). In our example, the vigorish has been changed slightly, with Kansas paying out $100 for every $105 wagered, and North Carolina paying out $100 for every $115 wagered.

This isn’t unusual in college basketball betting. The sportsbook can (and often will) move the point spread up or down before tip-off, with the goal of balancing the amount wagered on each team. Moving the vigorish accomplishes the same goal while keeping half-points intact, although it’s more of a fine-tune approach than changing the spread. 


Before the point spread, there was the original way to bet on sports: the moneyline. This “fixed-odds” bet asks you to pick the winning team, with no spread attached. The difference is you have to do a little math to understand your risk and reward. Here’s the moneyline example for a March Madness title game:

North Carolina +175

Kansas –210

If you bet on the favored Jayhawks to win this matchup, you were paid out $100 for every $210 you wagered. The underdog Tar Heels would have paid $175 for every $100 wagered, except they lost 72-69. But at least they beat the spread at +4.5.


Instead of betting on which team will win, you can bet whether they will combine to score Over or Under a certain number of points. Totals are posted alongside spreads and moneylines at Bovada, and look a little something like this:

North Carolina O 152.5 (–105)

Kansas U 152.5 (–125)

Since these two teams combined for 141 points at the 2022 National Championship Game, the Under paid out $100 for every $125 wagered.


Props (short for “proposition bets”) have become one of the most popular NCAAB bets in recent years. These are bets on anything other than the outcome of the game itself. For example, you might have been able to bet on North Carolina guard Caleb Love scoring Over or Under 16.5 points against Kansas at –120 vigorish; Love scored 13 points to cash in the Under.

Prop bets have become increasingly popular over the years. In part, this is due to how peculiar, yet interesting, prop bets can be. To an extent, you can request props bet on almost anything such as, who will win tipoff, will a certain celebrity appear at the final etc. When it comes to college basketball props bets, Bovada Sportsbook offers hundreds of options and unique markets that can’t be find anywhere else. 


A parlay bet allows you combine 2 or more different “straight” bets (spreads, moneylines and totals) into one wager, where your potential payout gets multiplied together instead of added together. North Carolina +4.5 and Under 152.5 would have been a winning parlay at the 2022 National Championship Game. The more lines you add to your parlay, the more you can win, but one wrong pick and the entire bet loses. 


College basketball teasers let you move each of the lines in your parlay by 4, 4.5, 5 or 6 points. This makes it more likely you’ll cash in, with a smaller payout in return. Kansas +1.5 and Under 158.5 would have been a winning 6-point teaser in our example game.


But what about the next March Madness tournament? Futures bets allow you to wager on events (other than single games) that won’t be resolved until later on down the road, like who will win the title next year. You can bet on the next March Madness champions at Bovada all year round.

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